The Difference Between Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter in Illinois

Updated on 08/24/2023 / Under

Murder and manslaughter are serious charges with different consequences in Illinois. Murder is worse and can lead to life imprisonment. First-degree murder and second-degree murder require solid evidence of unlawful killing for prosecution and criminal charges.

Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter involves unintentionally taking someone's life due to recklessness or negligence. Reckless homicide charges or involuntary manslaughter charges carry a lesser sentence, usually around 10 years in prison. It is often charged after physical or emotional provocation resulting in accidental death in deadly circumstances. The legal team at Ktenas Law offers assistance to those facing charges of manslaughter.

What Is Voluntary Manslaughter in Illinois?

Voluntary manslaughter is a felony offense in Illinois. The legal definition involves killing another person without lawful justification. In Illinois, the only form of a voluntary manslaughter charge is the death of an unborn child. This can happen if the offender acts under sudden and intense passion such as during a domestic violence incident, a sex offense, or under the influence of alcohol resulting from serious provocation or intentionally kills the pregnant woman's unborn child under what they believe to be a justifiable use of force, which is deemed unreasonable. Those accused may be charged with murder or involuntary manslaughter in other situations.

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Voluntary manslaughter carries significant penalties, including a sentencing range of up to 7 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Probation or parole may also be required after release from jail. If accused, it is important to seek legal counsel immediately to protect rights and build a strong defense against all applicable charges.

What is Involuntary Manslaughter in Illinois?

In Illinois, involuntary manslaughter is a serious crime that results in unintentional death caused by the defendant's reckless actions.  A reckless homicide offense is different from murder since it is not intentional but due to negligence such as aggravated driving, driving with a conscious disregard for minor children that put them at an unjustifiable risk, vehicular manslaughter, death during a burglary, or death during medical treatment. The law requires that the defendant's actions, whether lawful or unlawful, must have presented a significant risk of causing death or bodily harm.

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Reckless choices can cause harm, even death, and result in criminal punishment charges for involuntary manslaughter. Understanding Illinois laws ensures justice for victims of reckless behavior.

When Could You Be Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter?

In Illinois, the punishment for involuntary manslaughter is a Class 3 felony crime which may result in up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or a maximum criminal penalty fine of $25,000. This crime is defined as causing the death of another person unintentionally due to recklessness or criminal negligence, without any malicious intent or premeditation.

Examples of criminal offenses that could result in involuntary manslaughter charges in Illinois include:

Felony drug crimes or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Arson charges or inappropriately using a firearm that results in the death of another person

Failing to provide necessary medical care to an individual resulting in physical harm and death

Aggravated assault crimes and engaging in an act of horseplay or recklessness that leads to another’s death

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As with any crime, those accused have the right to legal counsel. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help defendants build a strong defense and protect their rights in court.

What Are the Penalties You Face If Convicted of Voluntary or Involuntary Manslaughter?

Illinois has strict penalties for both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Prison time and fines may be imposed for both. Voluntary manslaughter is when someone intentionally kills another due to provocation or in the heat of passion. The sentence is 4-20 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. Involuntary manslaughter is when someone unintentionally causes another person's death due to recklessness or criminal negligence. The sentence is 2-5 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. Defendants may face probation and restitution to the victim's family. A conviction results in a permanent criminal record that can affect future opportunities. Defendants should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately to protect their rights and build a strong defense.

Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

You need experienced criminal defense attorneys if charged with manslaughter in Illinois. The consequences depend on whether it is voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is intentional killing without premeditation or deliberation. It's a Class 1 felony with 4-20 years in prison and fines up to $25,000. Involuntary manslaughter is unintentional killing due to recklessness or criminal negligence. This is a Class 3 felony with penalties of 2-5 years in prison and/or fines up to $25,000. At Ktenas Law, we'll build a strong defense. Contact us to learn more.